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Notable Writings

B y   G a b r i e l  T r u j i l l o  M u ñ o z 

Do Not Destroy What Life Gives You

Today, science fiction is still seen as an anomaly in Mexican literature. But since the 1960s, in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, this genre of fiction has taken new routes. Social criticism, the libertarian spirit, stylistic experimentation, the search for subtler themes, have turned into the paradigms of the future envisioned by young writers.

Among the landscapes of tomorrow, ecology - with its warnings about nature besieged by technology and the merciless exploitation of its resources - has taken center stage in the texts of several Mexican science fiction writers.

For example, in a classic science fiction story, ''Arbol de vida'' (Tree of Life, 1981), Edmundo Domínguez Aragonés depicts a land so polluted that only one tree survives, in a type of greenhouse - the last tree on the planet. It is but a reminder of all that has been lost to human destruction. ''Arbol de vida,'' however, is not a pessimistic vision. The author portrays, from the perspective of a child, the pilgrimage of a family in the future to contemplate the wonder of the last living tree. The tale is a travel diary and the foundation is the promise of greenness the tree holds for the family under the broad reach of its foliage.

In ''Los herederos de Scammon'' (The Heirs of Scammon, 1982), by Arturo Casillas, the ecological theme moves to another species facing extinction: the whales that travel the Pacific to mate in Ojo de Liebre bay, located on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California. Casillas puts his main character, Jorge Isaac, in direct contact with the whales, which, in the realm of science fiction, are sentient beings seeking to communicate with humanity by telepathic means to make us realize that we must respect them instead of hunting them and imprisoning them in aquariums.

In works such as ''Cristóbal nonato'' (Christopher Unborn, 1987), by Carlos Fuentes, ''La destrucción de todas las cosas'' (The Destruction of All Things, 1992), by Hugo Hiriart, ''Tiempo lunar'' (Moon Time, 1993), by Mauricio Molina, or ''La leyenda de los soles'' (The Legend of the Suns, 1993), by Homero Aridjis, Mexican authors show evident concern about a future in which it will be impossible to halt the deterioration of our seas and lands. We destroy ourselves, paraphrasing Mexican writer Rosario Castellanos, ''killing not only what we love but also all that gives us life.'' The warning in these novels is not for our successors, their message makes it incumbent upon us to act here and now. The prevention of future disasters, they are telling us, is in our hands.

* Excerpt of an article for Tierramérica by Mexican writer Gabriel Trujillo.


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